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Why is the term "servant leader" removed from the 2020 Scrum Guide?

The removal of the term "servant leader" for the Scrum Master has caught many by surprise with the release of the latest version of the Scrum Guide. That being said, this change has not impacted the accountabilities of the Scrum Master in any way. While the Scrum Master remains the 'Scrum expert,' the term servant leader has been replaced with 'true leaders who serve'. This edit in the language now better captures the true responsibilities of the scrum master and improves on the scrum master description from the previous version.

Although the term 'servant leader' was always meant to be understood as leaders who steer the team from behind, unfortunately, the scrum master's role on many occasions has been relegated to a team assistant, meeting coordinator, or worse, a team secretary. For example, as meeting coordinators, scrum masters are only setting up and managing meetings and updating burndown charts. As team secretary, they've been further downgraded to bringing donuts and coffee for the team. These are severe misunderstandings of the scrum master role, which grossly diminishes the value that organizations can derive from the scrum master.

This recent change is made to communicate better the leadership qualities of the scrum master who not only helps the team discover their real potential through self-management but also enables the broader organizations to achieve superior results. Thus, anyone reading the scrum guide will better understand that scrum masters have a two-fold responsibility of managing both up and down.


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